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The Rhinestone Cowboy

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Album Review

Early on in Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell sings that he's making his "comeback," a sentiment that can't help but seem to carry an autobiographical heft. While it is true that he was hardly off the charts in the early '70s, the quality of his music was a little inconsistent; the singles were often good, but his albums were burdened with schlock and erratic in quality. He started to break free with a pair of 1974 albums, Houston (I'm Comin' to See You) and the Jimmy Webb tribute Reunion, but it wasn't until 1975's Rhinestone Cowboy that he seemed in full control of his talent, delivering a record that stands proudly next to his '60s peaks. Much credit is due to the presence of producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who help focus Campbell through their own tunes, their expert selection of songs, and their shimmering, high-gloss production that dazzles on the surface but also delivers considerable thematic and musical substance. Throughout the record, there are allusions to Campbell being a country boy stranded in the big city, where he's successful but emotionally adrift. This is most evident on the album's two big hits, "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" itself, but his yearning is underpinned by sad songs like "I'd Build a Bridge," the despairing "We're Over," and a heartbreaking version of Randy Newman's "Marie." Among this, a cheerful cover of the Temptations' "My Girl" seems a little out of place, but this is the only outright misstep in an otherwise masterful album that manages to sound soothing even when it's sad. Even with its undercurrents of melancholy, Rhinestone Cowboy sounds and feels like a triumph because of the assured, layered lushness of the Lambert/Potter production and Campbell's fine performances. He sounds engaged by the material, bringing out nuances within the songs, and it's positively a joy to hear after several years of wandering.

Biography

Born: 22 April 1936 in Delight, AR

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It isn't accurate to call Glen Campbell "pure country," but his smooth fusion of country mannerisms and pop melodies and production techniques made him one of the most popular country musicians of the late '60s and '70s. Campbell was one of the leading figures of country-pop during that era, racking up a steady stream of Top Ten singles, highlighted by classics like "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "I Wanna Live," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy," and "Southern Nights." Boasting...
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The Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell
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